Environmental News

October, 2016

“”Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
~ Dr. Seuss, from The Lorax

Environmental News Daily Updates

We are all about sharing information. We add a new link to related articles on a daily basis. To see a recap of this month’s articles visit our Daily Updates Archive. (Worth a read!)

October 31, 2016

Getty Peter Cade

Getty Peter Cade

7 Ways to Power Your Home With Renewable Energy

By Avery Thompson

Unless you’re filthy rich, you’re probably always on the lookout for ways to save a couple bucks. One of the best ways to cut your monthly bills is by investing in renewable energy. Not from the power plant, but stuff you can scare up yourself.

Using renewable energy to power your home can reduce or completely eliminate your utility bills, and the tax incentives for installing renewables can make them even more cost effective. Here are seven different ways to power your home with renewable energy.

(Full Story)

Environmental Action

by Dr. D. Michael Shafer

Can your town save the earth?

Yes.

Here is how your town can cool the planet and save money doing it.

The earth is heating up at an unprecedented rate. Tropical diseases are appearing in American cities. Every summer is more unbearable than the last.

Massive fires devastate our forests. Someone just sailed a pleasure boat through the once frozen “Northwest Passage” connecting the North Atlantic to the North Pacific via the North Pole.

What is being done? At Paris in December 2015, 196 countries signed a “game changing” climate agreement that recognized the threat climate change poses to humanity. Their solution? Slow the rate at which we are heating the atmosphere.

This is a good idea. But it will not solve the problem. It is like slowing the car as you hurtle toward the missing bridge over a deep gorge. You buy time – but you are still going over the edge.

What is missing?

Solutions that actually cool the earth’s atmosphere.

Scientists tell us that the main culprit in global warming is carbon in the form of CO2. This is why trees are so important and why global deforestation is a key part of global warming.

Trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. They release the oxygen (O2) back into the atmosphere for us to breathe and use the carbon (C) to build cell walls. As long as the tree is alive, it soaks up C; together trees in a forest become a “carbon sink” holding carbon that cannot contribute to global warming.

The problem with this is obvious – trees die and when they do, they rerelease the C into the atmosphere as they rot.

This is where your town comes in.

Your town has hundreds, perhaps thousands, of trees lining streets, shading parks, beautifying public buildings.

Every year these trees shed branches, need pruning or die. Every year you collect hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tons of dead wood.

What do you do with it? Burn it? Chip it? Compost it? Landfill it?

No matter what you do with your dead wood, you are returning the carbon to the atmosphere.

You can do better for all of us – and for your town.

Here’s how.

If you heat that wood really hot – 1,000⁰ F – in the absence of oxygen, “pyrolyze” it, you will produce biochar. (Do not sweat the technology; it is so simple it will make you cry.)

What is biochar? Super charcoal, pure carbon without the ash and impurities in basic barbecue charcoal.

Why is biochar special? Let’s start with the earth.

Making biochar is carbon negative. When you make biochar from dead wood, you permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere. The biochar that remains when you finish production is pure carbon equal to 40 percent of the total carbon contained in the wood – and it is completely inert. It will never again enter the atmosphere. Put differently, for every pound of biochar you make, you remove three pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Making biochar also has important indirect impacts. Large piles of rotting wood chips, for example, emit not just CO2, but methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 25 times as warming as CO2. Methane and other such long-term GHGs as NOx are eliminated by pyrolysis.

The question you have to ask, however, is: What about my town?

It is one thing to care about the environment; it is another to impose the costs of solving global problems on local rate payers.

Here is the irony: Making biochar will save your town a lot of rate payer money.

That is the point: Making biochar is smart business for your town, not just good for the environment.

How?

Where and how much your town will benefit depends on local circumstances, but here is how making biochar can cut costs.

  • Biochar is a powerful soil amendment. Applied to lawns, playing fields, golf courses, it can reduce fertilizer costs 40-50 percent.
  • Biochar retains water extremely well. It can reduce time between watering by days, conserve water and save money.
  • Biochar is a highly effective decontaminant. It can be used to clean up hazardous spills, decontaminate building sites, storm drains, and lawns and public spaces after floods.
  • Biochar added to compost – if the town composts leaves, for example – improves quality and extends the effective life of compost in the soil.

If your town is large enough – if it has enough stuff to turn into biochar – biochar production can itself be turned into a profitable endeavor by using the heat it produces to run a small power plant. The amount of power involved may be tiny, but providing free electricity to Public Works is no small matter.

Bottom line? Why not help the earth? Your rate payers will love you – and your town will take pleasure in knowing that global welfare lies at the heart of how you do business.

About the Author

Dr. Shafer is the co-founder of Warm Heart Worldwide and director of the Warm Heart Environmental Project. He lives in Phrao with his wife Evelind and their 40 adopted children.

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US Consulate General Chiang Mai Goes BioChar After Conference with Warm Heart

by City Life

The US Consulate General Chiang Mai has declared that it will go fully BioChar after a conference today with Michael Shafer from Warm Heart introducing the facts and theory behind the burning technique, followed by a demonstration to officials and a training program for the gardeners at the consulate.

Exactly two months after the new US Consul General in Chiang Mai took her position, Jennifer Harhigh told Citylife that if the training goes well, she hopes to see the US Consulate fully BioChar by the end of the month.

In the conference, Michael Shafer discussed the impact of traditional burning techniques and identified the benefits of using BioChar. “65- 70% of people in Thailand still regularly use charcoal to cook with,” he said. “It creates a lot of smoke when its made in the factories, and you only see about 30% of the biomass retained as charcoal to sell. Its very ineficient. If you burn in a BioChar oven, you can retain 75% of that biomass, sell it as charcoal and not produce any smoke.”

Thailand is the 22nd largest contributor to carbon emissions globally and the 2nd largest consumer of artificial pesticides and fertilisers in Southeast Asia. “Thailand uses more pesticides than all of the United States,” said Shafer in the conference. “We need to get BioChar into the soil to absorb these chemicals, use them in water filtration and replace chemical fertilisers from China with organically seeded BioChar made locally.”

Chiang Mai has seen a 4.4 million ton increase in corn production in the last four years. Most of this waste is either burned or transported to the north’s main landfill in Hod District, where it is burned or where methane is siphoned off.

According to the local municipality representative at the meeting, over half a million tons of waste and bio-waste is dumped in the Hod landfill site every day. The landfill has been opened for 25 years. They also agreed to lobby the local municipality to make BioChar a local policy that can then be used as an example for other districts.

(Full Story)

environmental news

Cooling Properties of Biochar

The two sides to the issue of global warming.

The first issue is addressing the cause of global warming and taking action to reduce the sources. We now know the excess amount of C02 that we are pouring into our environment is a major culprit. Switching to non-polluting sources of energy is a slow process, but at least we are working towards that goal.

The second issue is how do we reverse global warming? Our glaciers are melting, our oceans are heating up, sea levels are rising, coastal towns are subject to flooding, and worse. We are already there. Even if we were able to halt adding more C02 to the atmosphere tomorrow, would that be enough?

“Soil Biology is our only way to rapidly and massively draw down CO2 from the air to offset our ongoing and past carbon emissions, It can safely and naturally restore the hydrological cycles by increasing biogenic aerosols and cloud albedo that can readily cool the planet by the 3 watts/m2 needed to offset the now locked in greenhouse warming effects and avoid the Storms of Our Grandchildren.” Erich Knight

The Future of Sustainable Agriculture

Moving Forward: Back to Nature

The future of sustainable agriculture

Biochar is not just “carbon neutral”, it is carbon negative, which means it can draw C02 from the air and sequester the damaging carbon emissions. It far exceeds typical commercial chemical fertilizers, by helping build up soil quality, is an excellent moisture retainer, and adsorbs harmful metals and chemicals that have poisoned our soils.

Biochar is the future, and sooner or later (preferably sooner) large fertilizer producers will see the benefits of embracing biochar and realize there is not only great potential for the environment, but for their pocket books as well.

Not only does biochar work in the soil, the process to make biochar reduces the amount of CO2 released in the first place. It is steadily growing in the market, small manufactures have already caught on and are producing quality biochar fertilizer for home gardeners. Instead of literally burning up potential income in open field burning of crop residue after harvest, they can increase their profits through converting it into usable and marketable biochar. The process is simple and straightforward. Anyone interested in learning how to DIY, we have free instructional videos and PDF’s to show you how.

Check out these two posts about the new technology Warm Heart has developed

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New biochar ideas from Karl Frogner

More new biochar ideas from Karl Frogner part 2


The Domino Effect

The Domino Effect

Oceans are absorbing the majority of the heat

One thing leads to another. Global warming is having a big impact on ocean temperatures, lowering the PH level, more acidic seawater damages the ability of sea creatures to make shells. Shelled species, tiny and large, are the base of the ocean food pyramid and their loss threatens the food producing potential of the oceans.

Our beautiful coral reefs are bleaching out and dying.

Water expands when heated, which is contributing to the rise in sea level that has already caused flooding in many coastal towns.

The insurance industry is completely convinced that climate change is raising sea levels and increasing the number of major storms and floods.

Once again biochar enters the picture. The sooner the global community adopts biochar, the quicker we can turn around the devastating consequences of the warming oceans.

Finger Lakes Biochar recently blogged “This week I happened upon some fascinating biochar research focusing on charring seagrass wrack as a more sustainable means of disposal. Not only is this environmentally preferable as compared to landfilling it, which causes all sorts of GHG emissions from the decomposition stage, but in all likelihood it could be economically better too.” (read full article)

For more information on the current status of our ocean temperatures check out the article published in the New York Times by Tim Wallace “Oceans Are Absorbing Almost All of the Globe’s Excess Heat“.

On a lighter note

On a lighter note

Biochar in the home

There are so many uses for Biochar other than saving the planet!

Biochar works as a great absorbent, removing unwanted odors in your home. Whether used in the kitchen, bathrooms, linen closets, or anywhere else you may have an odor problem, biochar is your answer. You can even buy Biochar cat litter! Environmental safe and nose friendly.

Perfect for Composters

Reduces or eliminates compost bin odors leaving your Kitchen smelling Fresh! Preserves compost nutrients.

Environmental News: Now That's Progress!

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Alternative transportation – human powered.

(Read Full Story)

Free Resources

Warm Heart provides free training materials for anyone interested in learning how to build a biochar oven. Our focus is on making it affordable and easy so anyone can have access to use this powerful technology.

You can watch our Video, or download the instructions in a PDF format.

Be sure to check out all the resources we have for you.

Environmental Progress News
Climate change and global warming can be reversed.

A gloom and doom attitude does not bring about change. What we need are solutions to fix the problem.

The focus of our Newsletter is on current positive steps that are being taken around the world.

Our goal is to inform and share resources.

We encourage article submissions that focus on what is working.

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Source: Randall Munroe xkcd blog
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Results from September Poll

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Do you believe global warming is an issue we need to address?

Answer
Agree 74.1% / 71
Disagree 13.5% / 13
Am Concerned 8.3% / 8
Am Not Concerned 1.0% /1
Don’t know 1.0% / 1
Don’t care 1.0% / 1
Undecided 1.0% / 1
Other 0.0% / 0

We had over 1,300 visitors to our poll, only 96 voted. Thanks for participating!